High School Sports

Who is Brian Burns, the Florida State edge rusher drafted by the Carolina Panthers?

FSU defensive end Brian Burns could be the pass-rusher of the Carolina Panthers’ dreams.
FSU defensive end Brian Burns could be the pass-rusher of the Carolina Panthers’ dreams. USA TODAY Sports

Plantation American Heritage is officially on a streak of putting players in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Brian Burns followed in Sony Michel’s footsteps from a year to give American Heritage a first-round pick in back-to-back years Thursday when the Carolina Panthers selected the edge rusher with the No. 16 overall pick of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville.

Burns, who spent the past three seasons as a star defensive end for the Florida State Seminoles, is the third player from South Florida to go in the first 16 picks of the 2019 NFL Draft.

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Burns’ frame and level of production during his high school career in Plantation made him one of Broward County’s most coveted prospects in the Class of 2016.

He immediately became a standout in Tallahassee, leading all freshmen nationally with 9 1/2 sacks and earning freshman All-American honors. As a sophomore, Burns’ sack total slipped to 4 1/2 before he piled up 10 as a junior in 2018. He was a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection despite Florida State’s disappointing season. His 24 career sacks were fifth most in Seminoles’ history and his 39 1/2 tackles for loss placed him eighth on Florida State’s all-time list.

While Burns primarily played defensive line for the Seminoles, the prospect has the athletic ability to play outside linebacker in the NFL, too.

Burns measured in at the NFL Scouting Combine at 6-5 and 249 pounds, and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, the third fastest among hybrid edge rushers in Indianapolis.

His spindly frame — his arms measured longer than 33 inches and his hands measured at 10 in Indiana — earned him the nickname “Spider-Man” and the athlete has a picture of the superhero as his cover photo on Twitter.

Burns is also the first player from a Florida college to be picked in the 2019 NFL Draft. There’s an outside chance he could, however, be the Seminoles’ last. Florida State doesn’t have another player in the top 150 of the CBSSports.com rankings.

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